Contractors handling the rehabilitation of the two sections of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway have called on the Federal Government to sustain the Sukuk fund in order to ensure steady funding and timely completion of the project.
They made the call on Monday, when a delegation from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) for the South East, led by a staff of the commission, Mr Alex Elikwu, visited the site “to verify the level of budgetary performance of the project.”
Elikwu said that the verification involved Sections I covering 59.2km (Lokpanta-Umuahia) and Section II, covering 59.1km (Umuahia-Aba), costing about N30 billion and N50 billion, respectively.
He said that the project would be ready in the next one-and-a half years, adding that the company had applied for a one-year extention to enable them to cover up for the lost time caused by the rain.
Omar, who was accompanied by the Supervising Consultant, Mr Edmond Ezi, expressed the hope that the tempo of work would increase now that the rain had subsided.
He attributed the success so far recorded on the project to the regular release of funds through Sukuk, adding that with Sukuk, funding had never been an issue for them.
He, therefore, urged the federal government to continue to leverage Sukuk in order to ensure that the project did not suffer unnecessary delay due to poor funding, often associated with inadequate budgetary allocations and releases.
Also, the Area Manager of Setraco Nigeria Ltd., handling the Section I of the project, Mr Fouad Ghazal, said that 62 per cent of the road had been asphalted.
Ghazal promised that the job would be completed and delivered by March 2021, “if the N800 million outstanding is released.”
Nigeria News Agency reports that the FRC delegation also inspected the ongoing N940 million gully erosion control sub-contract at Nsukwe on the Umuahia end of the expressway.
The team further inspected the ongoing construction of a trailer park at the Lokpanta Cattle Market in Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia.
The leader of the delegation told NAN that the team was in the South-East to verify the federal government’s projects, which were captured in the 2018/2019 Appropriation.
He said that he was impressed with the quality and extent of job so far executed on the two sections of the dual carriageway.
He expressed the confidence that the project could be completed in record time with regular and sustained funding.
He said: “I hope that with what is on ground at the moment, the contractors are doing a quality job.
“I also believe that they will complete the project as promised, if the Sukuk is sustained as they have requested.”
Elikwu also advised the contractors to carryout palliatives on some of the failed portions of the expressway because of the envisaged heavy traffic during the Christmas festivities.
He said that such a measure would help to alleviate the plight of motorists by making the dilapidated portions passable.
(Edited & Vetted By: Sam Oditah)
Woman dies in Anambra road accident
A crash at Egbebele, along Abatete-Oraukwu road, in Orumba North, Anambra, has left one person dead and two others injured.
Kumapayi said the accident, which occurred at about 3:04p.m., could be attributed to the driver losing control of the vehicle due to excessive speed.
“The driver lost control of the vehicle due to overspeeding and crashed into the bush.
“The victims were rushed to Iyi-Enu Hospital, where the female victim was confirmed dead and the corpse deposited at the morgue of the same hospital.
“Operatives of the Nigeria Police Force and NIgeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were instrumental in the rescue operation,” he said.
“The crash was caused by loss of control, with one person sustaining serious injury, while three others sustained minor injuries.
While condoling with the family of the dead, the sector commander warned motorists against speed limit violation.
UN Decade of Action: Stakeholders harp on enforcement, education to reduce road accidents
Some stakeholders in transport on Thursday canvassed increased enforcement of traffic laws and education of road users to reduce road accidents and resultant deaths.
The stakeholders spoke during an online meeting organised by National Drivers’ Merit Awards (NDMA).
The meeting was monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.
The two-day online meeting, which commenced on Wednesday, was organised to celebrate the end of the first UN Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011–2020).
The online meeting was tagged: ‘’An X-Ray of the Decade of Action on Road Safety in Nigeria’’.
The meeting, moderated by Mr Ike Okonkwo and Mrs Bola Edwards, featured talks on: ‘Appraising the Decade of Action (2011-2020)’, ‘Data Integrity: A panacea for Effective Road Safety Management in Nigeria’ and ‘Road Safety Enforcement and Road Safety Education on a Scale’.
Mr Hyginus Omeje, the Lagos State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), said at the meeting that enforcement and advocacies remained key in achieving the UN Action Plan of 50 per cent reduction in road accidents.
Omeje, who called on various state governments to institute viable traffic management agencies, said that road safety required strategic documents, training, right funding and personnel.
“How many state governments or local governments in Nigeria train their drivers annually?
“UN Decade of Action on Road Safety needs the commitment of all; there is a need for private participation, also.
“We must engender safety right from the inside. Before fleet operators will operate, a lot of things must have been done (on drivers and vehicles).
“We need increased road safety education and culture,” he said.
The FRSC boss, who called for a national transport policy, said that one of the reasons why motorists disregarded traffic laws was meagre penalties for offenders.
Another speaker, Dr Charles Asenime of the School of Transport, Lagos State University, attributed slow reduction in Road Traffic Crashes (RTC) to poor driving attitude and underfunding of road infrastructure, among other factors.
Asenime also listed the factors to include low enforcement and a depressed economy which forced motorists to patronise substandard spare parts for vehicle maintenance.
He decried lack of road safety education in primary to secondary schools, poor established driving schools and lack of modern teaching equipment such as traffic signal simulations in many driving schools.
The Executive Secretary of the Transportation Growth Initiative (TGI), Dr Adeyemi Omidiji, said that driving culture in the country was dangerous.
He added that many road users could not interpret road signs.
“Enforcement and prosecution have impacted positively in changing behaviour pattern of motorists, thereby reducing the rate of RTC across the country,” he, however, said.
A discussant, Mr Hafis Toriola, Director, Transport Operations, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, said that enforcement and education were very key to road safety.
Toriola said that education would lead to voluntary compliance by motorists.
Another discussant, Dr Tolulope Olufunlayo, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Community Health and Primary Care, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, called for community engagement in road safety education and risk assessment.
NAN reports that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognises that road safety is a prerequisite to ensuring healthy lives, promoting wellbeing and making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
It also seeks to improve the safety of road infrastructure, enhance the behaviour of road users and improve post-crash response.
Public-Private Partnership as panacea to road development
Public-Private Partnership as panacea to road development
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation is one of the cardinal goals of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The United Nations (UN) has also underlined the importance of delivering quality infrastructure by stakeholders for enduring development in that regard.
Analysts note that the backbone for the development of any nation includes its physical infrastructure, comprising roads and bridges, power generation plants, power transmission and distribution networks and water, among others.
They note that providing infrastructure projects requires huge capital and tend to exert a strain on financing such projects by governments.
According to them, it will not be out of place for governments with limited resources to lookout for alternative financial, managerial and technical resources to deliver essential public infrastructure via partnership.
The Federal Government has, therefore, proposed a public-partnership partnership to assist it in tackling the odds against the delivery of quality infrastructure.
The Senate Committee on Works Chairman Adamu Aliero says the committee, as part of its statutory responsibility to citizens, recently embarked on oversight to ascertain the delay in completion of some of the roads that were awarded to contractors by the Federal Government.
Some of the roads listed for inspection by the committee include the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano dual carriageway, Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Sagamu-Ikorodu road and Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road, among others.
For the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano dual carriageway, the contract was awarded on Dec. 20, 2017 to Julius Berger Plc. at a contract sum of N155.48 billion and has three sections — Zuba-Kaduna, Kaduna-Zaria and Zaria-Kano road.
Aliero who led the committee members on inspection of the road said that work began on Zuba-Kaduna, Kaduna-Zaria and Zaria-Kano road on May 21, 2018 and it is to be completed on May 21, 2021.
“We are not happy with the slow pace of work. The work is done at snail speed, Nigerians are worried as the road cut across three geopolitical zones of North-Central, North-West and North -East.
“It is a very important road in terms of the economic gains of the zones; the delay is unacceptable; there is no enough mobilisation on the part of the contractor,’’ he observed.
He called for public-private partnership to assist government in provision of roads as critical infrastructure.
“Going by what is happening now in the budget, there is no way the Federal Government can fund well more than 522 roads,’’ he said.
Aliero said that the Senate would amend laws to make Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives attractive to boost investments in roads and other infrastructure to bridge infrastructure deficit.
The senator also called on private investors to key into the tax credit scheme to ensure quality road delivery to improve the economy.
While inspecting the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Aliero said that the Federal Government was concerned about attracting investments to the country.
Aliero said that PPP was an alternative means of funding road infrastructure which business owners should adopt for the good of the nation.
“Already PPP is on the top agenda of the 9th Senate; and indeed the entire National Assembly, we will encourage the private sector to go into construction of infrastructure, not only roads but also railways and power,’’ he said.
He commended the tax credit scheme adopted by the Dangote Group for the Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonsoki Expressway project and advised other businessmen to key into it.
“If this is done, it will facilitate the rehabilitation or reconstruction of the road sector in the country instead of relying on the annual budgeting of rehabilitating or constructing.
“The road will be built by the private sector and they can recover their money through payment of taxes with an arrangement with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)’’, he said.
He also expressed satisfaction at the adequate mobilisation of equipment and personnel on various sections to deliver the project on schedule.
“This is the way to go because this is a road linking two major sea ports in the country; Tincan Island and Apapa port and this is where haulage of heavy goods is being ferried to different parts of the country apart from Lagos.
“Most of the imports from the north pass here before they eventually go to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
“It is a major road which should be constructed very well and we are very pleased with what we have seen.
The progress of work is good and we have no doubt that if the contractor maintains the pace, the project will be completed and delivered on time,’’ Aliero said.
Similarly, Gov. Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, noted that the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road was a very important road that was at the heart of Nigeria and it had deteriorated to the point that something had to be done.
el-Rufai, however, noted that with an annual budget of N169 billion for federal highways, it was clear that alternative sources of funding must be found.
The fourth mainland bridge is supposed to be like a ring road, it is supposed to be a 37- kilometre bridge and super highway.
“We have got expression of interest by both local and international companies. They are now at various levels of procurement,’’ he said.
Also, Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun said that public-private partnership was fundamental to the economic growth of the country.
“What we should do is how to encourage a public-private sector partner to come and partner and let us tell the Federal Government to transfer some of the south- west roads.
“We requested that these roads, Sagamu-Ikorodu and Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta be transferred to us because they are commercial roads and we will privatise them and we will not revert to the Federal Government for any refund,’’ he said.
However, stakeholders are optimistic that before the end of 2030 when the SDGs are supposed to be achieved, critical infrastructure such as road development would also be realised.
**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria
Latvia reorganizes network of economic representations abroad
The Latvian Investment and Development Agency has decided to reorganize its network of economic representations abroad, after consulting entrepreneurs’ organizations and the national exporters’ association.
The government agency, which is responsible for facilitating Latvian businesses’ operations in foreign countries and attracting foreign investment in Latvia, said on Wednesday that it will close economic representations in four countries and open new ones in four other countries.
At present, Latvia has economic representations in 20 countries. Those in Lithuania, Poland, Kazakhstan and Singapore will be closed, and the economic representation in India will be closed temporarily, the agency said.
Meanwhile, it plans to open new economic representative offices in Belgium, South Korea, Canada and Austria.
The agency’s director Kaspars Rozkalns said in a statement to the media that Latvian entrepreneurs are feeling increasingly comfortable in neighboring markets and can manage without representatives’ assistance, but more support is necessary to Latvians doing business in distant markets where they have no previous experience.
“For that reason, we want to focus more on providing support to entrepreneurs in distant markets, increasingly involving professional Latvian expatriates residing in these countries,” said Rozkalns.
Delta will complete Trans-Warri road, bridge projects in 2021 -Commissioner
“The essence of the inspection is to ensure that all contractors handling state projects are on site in line with the state government’s directive to them to return to site following substantial relaxation of the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
The commissioner said that the multi-billion Naira road project, which comprised the 25.8 km and 19 bridges linking Ubeji, Ifie, Ijala, Ogbodede, Inorin, Ajigba, Orugbo, Usele, Ode-Itsekiri was awarded in 2006.
He said that the contractor moved to site in November 2007.
“Although, the project has several links to other communities, this administration decided that the contractor should concentrate on the main alignment.
“The contractors are presently trying to complete the remaining five bridges and once they are done with that they will continue on the road work.
“The quality of work is very high and I must commend the contractors for doing a good job.
“However, let me urge them to increase the pace of work to ensure that this project is completed by the end of next year,” he said.
Augoye said that the project had opened up the Ubeji community to Ifie side of the Warri River.
“The project has attracted six tank farms and other multi-billion naira investments, I urged the contractors to speed up the pace of work in order to meet the December, 2021 completion timeline.
“As you can see, the road has not been completed, but it has opened up the other side of the river to some economic activities.
“And if this other side of the river is completed, it means that it will create more economic activities for the people around this area,” he said.
The Special Director of the project, Chief Otimeyin Adam, commended the state governor for his commitment toward the completion of the project.
Otimeyin expressed optimism that the project would be completed as scheduled.
Earlier, Area Manager of Setraco, Delta Region, Mr Joseph Helby said that the company was determined to complete the project at the end of 2021.
“We have completed 14 of the bridges, while work is ongoing on the remaining five bridges.
“We have also completed 95 per cent of the internal roads in Ode-Itsekiri and we look forward to completion of the entire project at the end of 2021,” Helby said.
Federal Road Projects: FEC approves refunds of N148bn to Rivers, Ondo, 3 others
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday approved refund of N148billion expended on federal roads by Rivers, Cross River, Ondo, Bayelsa and Osun states.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the third virtual meeting of the FEC, held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mohammed said the approval of the refund followed a memo presented by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.
He said: “You will recall that in 2016, 36 states of the federation sent a very huge bill to the federal government, asking for compensation for money that they have expended on federal roads.
“This prompted Mr President to set up a committee to go and verify the claims of these 36 states, whether indeed these projects were actually constructed, were they completed, in line with the federal government standards.
“At the end of that exercise by an inter-ministerial committee, chaired by the minister of works and housing, but also had Ministers of Education, Transportation, Finance, Minister of State for Works, DG BPP and Permanent Secretary Cabinet Office as members.
“At the end of that exercise, the committee recommended that the federal government should refund N550,364,297.31 billion to 31 of the 36 states, after they were convinced that, yes indeed, the projects were completed and they were federal government roads.
“But the claims of five other states Cross River, Rivers, Ondo, Bayelsa and Osun failed on the grounds that they did not do proper documentation and the committee felt they needed proper documentation.
“So, the committee went back with new terms of reference to ensure that the claims of the five states were in order, that is why the BPP is on the committee.
“So, at the end of the exercise, the committee now reported that the five states – Cross River with 20 roads and one bridge will get a refund of N18,394,737,608.85, Ondo with six roads to get a refund of N7,822,147,577.08, and Osun with two roads and one bridge to get a refund of N2,468,938,876.78.
Mohammed said the committees confirmed the roads and the bridges, that not only were they completed, they were in substantial good form, adding that some of the bridges and roads were built about 10 years ago.
He, however, disclosed that “there is a caveat, as the federal government will pay the states but however, henceforth, if any state takes on federal government road, it will not be paid, they will not get any refund.
“Even if you want to pay from your own pocket, you will still need the permission of the federal government and it will be supervised by the federal ministry of works and housing.”
According to him, the modalities of refund are being worked out and payment will be made over a period of time.
Libya officials hold talks abroad amid fears of more fighting
Leaders from Libya’s warring factions were said to be travelling for talks abroad on Wednesday as reported air strikes south of the capital threatened to escalate the conflict further.
However, the UN has warned that a flood of weapons and fighters into Libya in defiance of an arms embargo could fuel more fighting.
The LNA is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt.
However, Turkish support for the GNA has shifted the balance of power in recent weeks, helping it push the LNA from most of the capital and onto the back foot.
All those countries have publicly welcomed the decision to resume U.N.-sponsored ceasefire talks.
His deputy Ahmed Maiteeg and GNA Foreign Minister Mohamed Siyala had earlier arrived in Moscow, local media said.
“That the legitimate government has the upper hand now should be viewed as an opportunity for a political solution,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a TV interview.
Meanwhile Haftar travelled to Egypt to meet defence officials, a source close to him said.
Russia and the LNA have denied that, with the LNA saying it has refurbished some old Libyan air force jets.
The air battle has been critical, with Turkish drones knocking out LNA air defence systems and supply routes.
Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)
Delta Govt. tasks contractor on speedy completion of Warri/Ode-Itsekiri road project
The state’s Commissioner for Works, Mr James Augoye,made the appealed on Wednesday while inspecting the extent of work on the project.
Addressing newsmen after the inspection, Augoye commended the company for the quality of work so far done.
“At this moment, this administration decided to concentrate on the main alignment from Ubeji to Ode-Itsekiri.
“The contractor has completed 14 out of the 19 bridges. Once the rest bridges are completed, they will continue with the road work and get it finished.
“So, I appeal that they increase the pace of work to ensure that the work is completed by the end of 2021 as agreed with the contractor.
“We all know the economic situation in the country which is also biting hard on Delta but Gov. Okowa is doing everything possible to ensure he financed the project to completion,” he said.
Augoye said that the road would galvanise economic activities and by implication create huge employment opportunities when completed.
“The road has not been completed, yet it has opened up the other side of the river to economic activities. So if the other side of the river is completed, it means more industries will spring up for our youths to work,” he said.
“Very soon, we will resume work and if everything goes well, we will complete the work before the end of 2021,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Adams Otimeyin, the Special Project Director of Trans Warri-Ode-Itsekiri road and bridges, said that 10 communities were expected to benefit from the multi-billion naira project.
“The road has opened up the rural areas when coming from Ubeji. 10 communities will benefit from the project, we have accessed five villages, remaining another five communities,” he said.
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Roadside bomb blast kills 9 civilians in southern Afghanistan
The Afghan civilians continue to bear the brunt of armed conflicts as more than 3,400 civilians were killed and over 6,900 others injured in conflict-related incidents in 2019, according to the figures released by the UN mission in the country.
Out of the total casualties, more than 880 civilians were killed and over 3,450 others wounded in suicide and non-suicide IED explosions in 2019.
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- COVID-19: Group donates 10 handwashing machines, sanitisers, to Plateau Govt.
- Ogun Assembly passes Health Insurance bill, another into law
- Fayemi, Bamidele, EKSU mourn ex-Gov Olumilua in Ekiti
- 14 health workers infected with COVID-19 in Myanmar
- Belarusian president names new prime minister, cabinet members
- COVID-19 cases in Belarus rise to 45,981
- Comply with Osun govt. directives on services, CAN orders churches
- FRSC charges officers to be more committed, hard working
- A’Ibom seeks FG assistance in fighting against COVID-19
- Gov. Obiano redeploys 4 commissioners in minor cabinet reshuffle
- People work at pastry factory in Khartoum, Sudan
- English Premier League agrees on 5 substitutes for season restart
- UK food banks hand out record number of emergency food parcels during pandemic: report
- People take part in demonstration in Athens, Greece
- Phuket hotels to fully open for Thai visitors as foreign travelers reduce
- 5.0-magnitude quake hits 122 km WNW of Ternate, Indonesia — USGS
- Ugandan cabinet approves human organ donation, trade bill
- Uganda braces for slump in global vanilla prices amid market surplus, COVID-19
- WRC New Zealand rally postponed
- EFCC destroys 681 bags of adulterated fertiliser in Gombe
- Kurdish-led militia, United States-led coalition forces brace for operation in eastern Syria: monitor
- Zambian expert urges tougher penalties for race discrimination, saying racism starts since colonialism
- Over 20 pct of Latvians work from home amid COVID-19 pandemic
- Finland’s Social Democratic Party gains popularity: poll
- Japan now thinking of “simplified’’ Olympic Games —- Tokyo governor
- Global Funds gives Zambia over 315 mln USD to combat HIV, TB and Malaria
- Court orders police, DSS not to arrest CUPP spokesman, Ugochinyere
- Senegal’s COVID-19 cases top 4,000 as more restrictive measures eased
- Syria receives new batch of anti-coronavirus medical aid from China
- Nepal confirms 334 new COVID-19 cases, tally over 2,600
- Palestine says Israel violates freedom of worship in Jerusalem
- Reopening of worship centres: Cleric advises religious leaders to obey govt. order
- Uzbekistan joins neighboring countries’ efforts against locust swarms
- Turkey plans to resume int’l flights to 40 countries, regions in June
- COVID-19: Constant stress, fear can reduce body immunity, says Nutritionist
- CLO urges FG to tackle erosion in Anambra
- People take part in protest over death of George Floyd in San Mateo of California
- Group embarks on market sensitisation on COVID-19, distributes face masks, gloves
- Sen. Folarin seeks arrest of Bello’s killers
- COVID-19, opportunity to expedite launch of single market in Africa -FAO
- European Commissioner “optimistic” about Portugal’s economic recovery
- Rape: Activist urges NASS to enact laws that will accelerate trial of cases
- China Focus: Garbage sorting leads to healthy life, green development
- COVID-19: Publishers plans diversification via e-resources production
- COVID-19: Lawmaker, 3 others die in Nasarawa- Gov Sule